What War Really Is

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Freedom Betrayed, by Herbert Hoover

Hoover asks the question, “Shall we send our youth to war?” in an article prepared for the August, 1939 issue of the American Magazine, he writes:

First, let me say something from this experience of what war really is. Those who lived in it, and our American boys who fought in it, dislike to recall its terribleness. We dwell upon its glories – the courage, the heroism, the greatness of spirit in men. I myself should like to forget all else….Amid the afterglow of glory and legend we forget the filth, the stench, the death, of the trenches. We forget the dumb grief of mothers, wives, and children.

War is hell. We are told this whenever we mention the atrocities committed, as if this pithy little phrase justifies the tragedy. Hoover here sees that war IS hell, however he sees this as reason to avoid entering in every way possible.

There is a scene in the movie The Americanization of Emily. This movie stars James Garner as Charlie Madison, an American officer in England during WWII, and Julie Andrews as Emily Barham, a British war widow – also having lost other family members to war.

The scene has Charlie Madison visiting the home of Mrs. Barham, Emily’s mother. Mrs. Barham is in great denial regarding the many deaths that war has brought to her family – her husband and son among others. She still acts as if her husband is alive, and Emily goes along with this denial.

When Mrs. Barham exclaims that after the war, it will be all the generals and statesmen writing books saying how it could have been avoided, Charlie explains that he doesn’t blame the generals and statesmen. He blames the mothers! The mothers make heroes out of their dead sons; they are the first to walk in the parade. Charlie explains that his own mother did this regarding Charlie’s brother. And now Charlie’s youngest brother can’t wait to enlist.

The clip is about ten minutes long, and I highly recommend spending the time. It can be found here:

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